Sunday, September 9, 2012

Day 5 - Florence to Lake Garda

We expected this to be a special day with Florence in beginning and Lake Garda in the end.

We left hotel at around 10 ot therabouts and it was a bit overcast and even got a drizzle. Nothing worrying so we did not stop to put rain gear on. We could also see that on the horizon where we were going to, weather looked better. We rode through the streets of Florence and as we left the central part it became similar to other cities.

Bo had set up a route that first part would be on the A1 highway so we would get to Lake Garda quite fast and then we would ride in smaller roads as we got closer to Lake Garda. Our accomodation was on the NW past of the lake and we would be arriving from the South and then would ride to the NE part and then take a ferry across the lake to the NE part and ride a bit north to our accomodation. Bo, Joy and Steve were staying in an hotel up the mountain whereas Paula and I would be staying in hotel by the lake.

We had done about one hours riding when we saw warnings on the highway that there was an accident and traffic was backed up for about 8 kms (5 miles). We waited but as traffic did not move we decided to ride on the right side and overtook this waythis huge traffic jam. Bo measured and it was probably more like 20 Kms of start stop traffic so it was a good decision as otherwise we would have arrived at least hours later and ride up the mountain in the dark would have been very difficult.

Eventually we got through the traffic jam which had been created by an accident involving a large truck. By the time we got there they had already removed the truck but still saw it on the right hand side of the road. Smooth sailing after that and then we got to the south of Lake Garda where Bo had set up a beautiful route through vineyards. Quite beautiful riding with quite a lot of blind curves created by thick vegetation very close to the roadside.
Our first stop in Lake Garda was in Sirmione, Italy. Here we tried to park just outside the castle but were warned that it was not allowed so we took some pictures and moved on to find a restaurant for lunch. The Sirmione castle is the most significant example of the defensive structures on Lake Garda.

The castle is open to the public and it has been restored to its original splendor. Thousands of tourists cross the drawbridge each day to stroll in the shadows of its crenellated walls. You can even climb the tower to enjoy the panorama of the lower lake area. From its bastions you can see the tapered shape of the Sirmione peninsula. In the village, tourists can take a leisurely stroll along the narrow lanes that still preserve the medieval ambiance, amidst fruit stands and outdoor caf├ęs.

The area was indeed full of tourists but as we had been delayed by the traffic jam and it was way past our lunch time we decided to move on with bikes and find a restaurant where we could have lunch at the late hour and also see the bikes.

After one failed attempt we found a restaurant with a parking lot and gardens backing up to the lake where they had some tables set up and they still served lunch. It turned out to be a great setting as we were very close to the water, the temperature was just perfect and although quality of food was not one of the best we had the surroundings were spectacular.
Here Paula took a picture that I love which is of a pier extending over Lake Garda. I loved because it reminds me of our lifes. We are here looking forward to what is coming but we can only see firm ground for a short time ahead. Further than that it is unknown, yet the possibilities are immense and with a good attitude beautiful as the other side of Lake Garda.
We then rode around Lake Garda towards the NE side where we caught up a ferry that took us to the NW side. We love ferries and it was a really beautiful sunny day. In this specific ferry ride there were a number of beautiful cars. My favorite was a red, "topless" Jaguar E. It had German plates and it was a gem.
Paula and Joy went to the top on the ferry and sta watching the view. The three of us men moved around taking pictures from different angles. The ride was too short ...
It was also a good place for us to put up the Italian flag on the bike and we rode out of the ferry with it blowing in the wind.

The flag of Italy features three equal and vertical bands, making it a tricolor flag. The hoist side has a green band; white forms the center band; and the outer stripe is red. There are different interpretationd about the colors, I personally like the interpretation of the Italian flag's colors that the red shows the violent struggle to become a unified and independent nation, the green symbolizes the landscapes of Italy, while the white represents the snow-capped Alps. We had already experienced a lot of green and loved it so far and were looking forward to the mountains (Alps and Dolomites).

When we arrived on the NW side of Lake Garda the sun was starting to set. We rode together for a while until we got to our hotel and the Bo, Joy and Steve went on up the mountain to their hotel. That evening Steve would call me very excited saying the ride up the mountain was very beautiful. It would be a pre sequel for the next 3 days in the mountains.
View from our hotel room was very nice and that evening we went down to the town of Gargnano, Italy where we asked the center and just listened to a band playing jazz as we looked at the last rays of sun disappear over the horizon.
For dinner that evening we stayed in hotel and Paula had the Tagliata steak. This the traditional way steaks are grilled and served in Northern Italy. The word «tagliata», i.e. «sliced», refers to the fact that they are served pre-cut into thin slices. It was served with salad and Parmesan cheese slices. I can attest it was delicious.
I decided to go with the Parma Ham and melon. After all we were less than 100 miles from the city of Parma in Italy where this beautiful ham comes from. Also delicious.
Another beautiful day full of new adventures, sights, tastes and experiences.


Click HERE for all the pictures for Day 5


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